Since Google sees more traffic (more searches originating) from mobile devices now, they've made a drastic change to their search results and if you're a small business owner, you need to take note of what they just did.
Google gave fair warning that starting on April 21, 2015 they would give higher preference to websites that are mobile ready when searches originated from a mobile device. They still kept their main website (think "desktop" computers) showing websites that might not have been mobile responsive ready yet. Not so anymore. The mobile index is now the main index. This means websites that do not work well on mobile devices won't rank very well.
Google Search Index set to go ‘mobile-first’ within months (searchenginewatch.com)
As if you haven’t experienced enough turbulence in the last few months, what with the release of Penguin 4.0 and the proliferation of AMP through organic SERPs, Google has announced that it will soon be splitting its index between mobile and desktop.
Furthermore, this mobile index will become the primary Google index. The newly separated desktop index will not be kept as up-to-date as the mobile one.
You may already be seeing the results. If your website isn't mobile-ready, then Google doesn't want to show your website as a result. The only exception might be if someone searches for your company directly.
For example, if your business is a local gym called "Tony's Awesome Gym" (a brand name) and your website just works fine on desktop computer (not mobile devices), then your website will show up when your brand name is entered because the clear intent is to find out information about a specific gym. However, if people are searching for local gyms and health clubs, your website will dramatically fall in the rankings if it's not designed to work well on a mobile device - even if they do a search from a desktop computer!
To further drive the point home, here's another recent article about this:
Google’s shift to mobile-first: mobile moments that matter (searchengineland.com)
...we’re witnessing the birth of a new mobile era where consumers interact and convert in what Google describes as mobile micro-moments — the key points of time when a user is interacting with their mobile device because they want to know something, go somewhere, do something or buy something.
- By 2019, mobile ad spending is expected to increase to $195.55 billion, and mobile ads will account for 70.1 percent of all digital advertising, Source: Venture Beat.
- By 2019, PQ Media estimates that content marketing will be a $300+ billion industry.
- By 2020, SEO-related spending will be worth $80 billion.
- According to Google, 34% of online purchases now happen on a mobile device.
...sites that have different configurations for mobile and desktop will need to make some changes. Responsive and dynamic serving sites will not require any changes.
...here is some data from Google’s “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile“:
- I-want-to-know: Over 51 percent of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphones. It all starts with search.
- I-want-to-go: There has been a 2x increase in “near me” searches in the past year. Think local.
- I-want-to-do: Searches related to “how to” on YouTube are growing 70 percent year over year. Produce mobile content that engages such as video.
- I-want-to-buy: 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phone while in a store. Track, measure and attribute online and offline performance.
The online customer journey has now exploded into billions of key moments, whether they are I-want-to-know, -go, -do, or -buy, occurring in any order at any time because every buyer is different. The once linear online customer journey is now out of date.
Google has given marketers a clear signal: Mobile is no longer optional.
Sorry for all the excerpts there but there's a lot of good information in that article. The bottom line is, if your website is not set up with responsive design, Google's not going to rank your website. They've given a very fair amount of warning and time is now up.
If you're not sure if your website is mobile ready, you can check. If you haven't redesigned your website in the last 4-5 years, then it might not be ready. You can use this website to find out:
Here's more insight into what you need to do:
Google’s mobile-first index: how to prepare your businesss (searchenginewatch.com)
Even if the majority of your users are not searching for your company or industry on mobile devices, you will now need to take mobile search into account for best practice SEO.
Optimizing for Mobile Indexing:
- Mobile Responsiveness. If your site already has a responsive design, by Google’s standards, you will likely not have to do much to be properly indexed for mobile.
- Mobile Site Configuration. If the content and markup of your site is different on mobile and desktop, you are going to have to make some changes. Read more about site configuration here.
- Structured Data Testing. Run structured data tests for both URLs and compare the output. Adjust any errors that might be present, but avoid adding any markup that isn’t necessary to mobile sites.
- Googlebots. Run the txt testing tool to make sure that the mobile version of your site is accessible to Googlebot—this will be key for indexing.
- Canonical Links. If your site does have canonical links, there is no need to make changes. Google claims that they will “continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile”.
- Verify in Search Console. If you have only verified the “desktop version” of your site, you will need to verify your mobile version as well.
- Building a Mobile Site. If you are building a separate mobile site, it is better to wait and launch it when it is fully functional, rather than launching it too soon. Google will continue to index desktop sites, so it is better to have a quality and complete mobile site.
- Webmaster Forums. If you have specific questions on your mobile site, you can contact Google Webmasters
If this doesn't make sense or if it looks like something you don't want to spend your valuable time working on, then contact Webstix.
The good news is that we've seen websites that we have converted to mobile-responsive get a lot more traffic, leads and conversions. This is honestly, a great move to make and it's now required.
As long as you're considering redesigning your website, do you want to know what the difference between having a website that's just "good" versus a website that returns and investment is?
Well, it's a step that surprisingly few companies take. We would honestly like to see more companies we work with take this step but since not many do, that can play to your advantage. The difference is copywriting. Yes, hiring a copywriter to write the text for your website is the difference between just launching a website that's good and launching a website that actually is a tool for your company.
The reason is, when you hand the task of writing copy for your website to an expert, you get a lot of advantages.
First, they're an outside source. They're looking at your company from the outside. That's something that's difficult for you to do. You know your company too well. The result of you writing your own copy is that it comes out too inwardly focused - versus customer focus. It's not your fault at all. This is a natural thing and someone with an outside view is able to turn this around.
Second, they interview stakeholders and pull out information that probably isn't being talked about enough. This interview process is a game changer in most cases. They'll find a key point that usually isn't mentioned on the website at all. Once it's discovered, it can be written about and expanded upon and can turn just ordinary website browsers into customers.
Third, what you get from the copywriter can bring your marketing together. The copy used on the new website can be taken offline and can be used on brochures and other marketing materials. Just getting your marketing organized can make a huge difference. You'll get key points that you can used everywhere and be consistent with your marketing. This helps eliminate confusing or conflicting marketing messages that you may have in place right now.
Fourth, projects that have a copywriter involved get completed faster. Writing content is the thing that slows down most projects. Client aren't typically waiting on us but we're waiting on their content. The sooner your new website is launched, the sooner it can be returning an investment for you so why not launch it sooner?
Again, most businesses look at copywriting like a waste of time and money. They end up with websites that aren't as good at converting traffic into sales/leads as they could be. They might spend $9,000 on a website and if they would have spent another $3-4,000, they could have ended up with a website that brought in 2-3 times more leads. Isn't $4000 worth investing in 3 times more leads in the next 4 years? That's $1000 a year or $83 a month for 3 times more leads. I mean, who wouldn't do that?
For example, if 10 more leads a month is worth more than $83 (or $8.30 per lead), it would be silly not to take this step. If you're going to invest $9000 or more on a website, why not go this little bit farther and turn your website into something that really provides a healthy return on investment?
If you realize that the Web is not a fad and that it's actually a key component to the success of your business, then congratulations and welcome to the party! It's great over here and we're glad to have you.
It's now time to get your website working well on mobile devices and time to start working on making your website a marketing tool for your business. Webstix is here to help.
Most likely, you'll need to redesign your website from scratch. Website technology moves fast. There are new and better ways of doing things coming out all the time. If your website is more than 3-5 years old, then it can take advantage of new technology that helps your website work better and load much faster. Hey, even just making the switch to PHP 7 can help you quite a bit.
Google wants fast loading websites that work well on any device with great content. Google wants that because people want that. Makes sense, right?
Since there are so many websites out there now, the smallest details really matter. This fact cannot be emphasized enough - it really can't. Trying to put up a website yourself is, quite honestly, a foolish move. I'm not just saying that to get your business I'm saying that to help your business. You need a website designed by experts who are keeping up with the latest technology and are keeping up with what Google really wants. We see clients who have tried to do it themselves come to us and have us re-do everything. In the end, they typically see more traffic, more leads and more sales. We can provide you with examples when we talk about your project.
I could go on but I'll save that information for clients who contact us and want to take some action - so please do that. Contact Webstix today!